Luxury Hotels in Miami's South Beach

by Joy Uyeno

South Beach, Miami, is known for its Art Deco architecture. Several of the luxury hotels in the area successfully combine the glamour of Art Deco with sleek, contemporary decor to achieve spaces that are unique but cohesively South Beach in their vibe. With plush rooms, highly rated restaurants and bars, and excellent spas, these hotels were among the four-star and four-diamond hotels as rated by Forbes and AAA.

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The Setai

The Setai is an ode to Asian Minimalism, which "Travel + Leisure" magazine describes as "[rising] over South Beach like an opulent obelisk, serving as a playground for damn-the-expense visitors." Guest rooms feature furnishings with sleek lines, black granite baths, rainfall showers, high-end stereo equipment, fine Irish linens and an espresso maker. The hotel has two buildings, the refurbished Art Deco Building and slick Tower, which serve as a nod to South Beach's past and present. Dining options include The Restaurant -- which serves food reflective of its chefs from China, Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia -- and The Grill -- which prepares dishes that are primarily French and Mediterranean in emphasis. The Bar + Courtyard and Pool + Beach Bar serve an array of spirits and cocktails with views of the art deco court yard and South Beach. The hotel's spa offers up facials, massages, nail and skin treatments with a Pacific Rim influence. Each of the spa's treatment suites offers views of the ocean and the pool.

Ritz Carlton South Beach

"Travel + Leisure" magazine calls the Ritz Carlton South Beach "Hands down...Miami's best full service resort." The hotel is housed in a building designed by famed architect Moris Lapidus, who was known for bringing glamour to Miami hotels. The 375 guest rooms are filled with dark cherry furniture set against a palette of nautical blue, greens and golds, with plush feather topped beds and marble baths. Floor-to-ceiling windows let in plenty of sunlight. The hotel's 16,000-square-foot spa offers an extensive selection of treatments including massages; facials; nail and hair treatments; body polishes; and treatments created specifically for men, pregnant women and younger guests. The DiLido Beach Club offers guests Mediterranean cuisine right on South Beach, while Bistro One LR serves up fresh local seafood, steaks and Sunday brunch. The Lapidus Lounge, named after the building's architect, serves cocktails, light fare and sushi both indoors and poolside. The Lobby Bar also offers up appetizers and drinks, with live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights.

The Sagamore

The Sagamore is known as "The Art Hotel," because owner Marty Taplin showcases his private collection on the premises -- but that doesn't mean the hotel is self-consciously highbrow. Despite the large collection of art and chic spaces, Frommers acknowledges that "the hotel doesn't take itself too seriously and boasts a tongue in cheeky sense of humor," evidenced by hosting events such as a "Lox and Botox" party, and cabana-housed plasma TVs showing everything from anime to digital art. The hotel has features suites, two-story bungalows and a penthouse, all of which include a hot tub, shower, and kitchenette or full kitchen in airy spaces filled with bright white furnishings and textiles accented with pops of teal and black. The Pool Bar and Grille offer open air seating and cabanas in 6,400 square feet of space, while serving up light fare and cocktails. The hotel's spa, RikRak Beauty Bungalow, offers massages, nail and skin services, as well as hair and makeup appointments upon request.

National Hotel

The National Hotel is located at the center of the Art Deco District, so its 1940's glamour is an organic fit with the neighborhood. The hotel houses 151 guest rooms, including Historic Rooms and Suites as well as Cabana Rooms and Suites. Historic guest rooms are furnished with simple, clean-lined furniture in light hues, overlooking the city or the water. Cabana guest rooms are located alongside the infinity pool and are decorated with high pin-tucked headboards and lantern lighting in true Art Deco style. The hotel's restaurant, Tamara, is named after the famous art deco painter Tamara de Lempicka and serves up Mediterranean cuisine. Blues Bar offers up cocktails and jazzy blues entertainment, while Aquabar serves light fare and drinks poolside.

About the Author

Joy Uyeno has been writing about travel, food, fashion, culture and finance since 2005. For three years she wrote a column for the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin" aimed at young and first-time travelers. Her writing has appeared in several local and national publications, including the 2008 anthology "Honolulu Stories." She holds a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College.